Friday, 1 June 2018

Arguments for a Lockerbie inquiry

representatives of UK Families Flight 103 had a meeting with the
Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, with a view
to pressing the case for an inquiry into Lockerbie. The Rev’d John
Mosey, a member of the group, has recently found amongst his papers
a briefing note that I wrote for the group before that meeting
containing suggestions for points that should be made to Mr MacAskill.
It reads as follows:]

1. The SCCRC findings are there. [RB: The Scottish Criminal Cases
Review Commission found in June 2007 that there were six grounds on
which Megrahi’s conviction might have amounted to a miscarriage of
justice.] They cannot simply be ignored or swept under the carpet.

2. The SCCRC is not a body composed of conspiracy theorists. Nor are
those who have, like it, questioned the justifiability of the Zeist verdict.
Apart from a number of UK relatives, they include the UN observer
Dr Hans Koechler, Kate Adie, Ian Bell, Ian Hislop, Michael Mansfield QC,
Gareth Peirce, John Pilger, Kenneth Roy, and Desmond Tutu.

3. There is widespread public concern within Scotland regarding the
Megrahi conviction. Look at the letters that have been published, and
the readers' online comments that have followed articles, in eg The
Herald, The Scotsman and Newsnet Scotland. Public confidence in the
Scottish prosecution system and the Scottish criminal justice system
has been severely dented.

4. At the very least there must be an inquiry covering the six issues on
which the SCCRC found that there might have been a miscarriage of
justice. All of the material on the basis of which that conclusion was
reached is already in the hands of the SCCRC in Scotland. There is
therefore no justification for contending that a purely Scottish inquiry
would not be meaningful, and the UK relatives may soon be compelled
to begin saying so very publicly. In respect of some of the SCCRC
evidence the previous Foreign Secretary [David Miliband] asserted
public interest immunity. If the new Foreign Secretary [William Hague]
refused to allow that material to be laid before an independent Scottish
inquiry, he would open himself to public excoriation. And even an
inquiry limited to the mass of SCCRC material in respect of which no
PII issue arises would still be valuable.

5. If, as a spokesman for the First Minister has asserted, "the Scottish
Government does not doubt the safety of the conviction of Megrahi"
will the Scottish Government disband the Scottish Criminal Cases Review
Commission? This expert body has stated that on six grounds there are
reasons for believing that Megrahi may have been the victim of a
miscarriage of justice. On what grounds and on the basis of what
evidence does the Scottish Government expect the people of Scotland
and elsewhere to prefer its satisfaction with the conviction over the
SCCRC's doubts? If the Scottish Government has evidence that
establishes that the SCCRC's concerns are unjustified, laying it before
an independent inquiry would be the best way of getting it before the
public at home and abroad and allaying their concerns about the safety
of the Megrahi conviction.

6. At present the SNP, unlike the Labour and Conservative parties, has
clean hands over the Megrahi conviction. But unless it moves soon, the
opprobrium over that conviction will begin to attach to the SNP as well.

7. Moreover, establishing an inquiry, as the UK relatives wish, is
morally the right thing to do. Surely the Scottish Government wishes to
occupy the moral high ground?

8. It took 19 years for Scottish politicians and the Scottish criminal
justice system to rectify the miscarriage of justice suffered by Oscar
Slater. Does the Scottish Government really want to break that dismal
record in relation to the Megrahi case?

9. Until the Megrahi conviction is removed from the picture, it can be
used -- and is being used -- by governments and politicians as a reason
for denying relatives an independent inquiry into the whole Pan Am 103
affair. By establishing an inquiry covering the SCCRC concerns only, the
Scottish Government would deprive the UK Government of this very
convenient excuse.

10. It was Voltaire who said that the best is the enemy of the good. Of
course an inquiry convened under international auspices, or an inquiry
convened by the UK Government which has foreign relations powers,
would be better than one which would of necessity be limited to such
aspects of Lockerbie -- eg the police investigation, the prosecution, the
trial, the conviction, the SCCRC investigation and findings, the
applications for prisoner transfer and compassionate release -- as are
within the competence of the Scottish Government. But the argument
that a good and useful thing should not be done because somebody
else could, if so minded, do a better and more useful thing is always
a bad argument. It is sad to see the Scottish Government resorting to it.

11. There are skeletons in the cupboard of Scottish and UK Labour
Governments in relation to the Lockerbie case. If the Scottish
Government falls in May 2011 into the hands of the Labour Party,
there is no prospect whatsoever of a serious investigation. They have
too much to hide. Our only hope is for the SNP Government to do the
right thing.

1 comment:

  1. The following comment is by James Robertson, who tried unsuccessfully to post it himself earlier:
    'An excellent summary of why the case for a Scottish pubic inquiry into Lockerbie is unanswerable. All that has changed in the intervening years is that yet more evidence has emerged casting further doubt - some might say entirely demolishing - the safety of the conviction. We have also had Mr MacAskill himself explicitly refuting the key evidence upon which Mr Megrahi was convicted - that he was the purchaser of the clothes from Tony Gauci's shop - and arguing that 'what really happened' is completely different from what the judges at Camp Zeist concluded had happened. And Police Scotland are just concluding a four-year investigation into allegations of criminality during the original investigation and trial, which is likely to bring even more doubts over the conviction to the attention of both the SCCRC and Crown Office. As the 30th anniversary of the disaster approaches, there is still time for the SNP Government to do the right thing.’